Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Five Minute Explanation of How Google Search Works

Last week Google published a new video that explains how Google Search works. The video presents an explanation of the factors that contribute to why some pages rank higher in the results page than others. The video also explains the factors that can contribute to a change in the ranking of a webpage.

Applications for Education
Understanding the basics of how webpages are ranked by Google can be helpful to students in evaluating the relevance of a page to their own research of a topic.

Of course, this video is just scratches the surface of what students need to know when it comes to understanding search. To learn more about search check out the list of search strategies I included in the free Practical Ed Tech Handbook or watch my on-demand webinar Search Strategies Students Need to Know.

An Easier Way to Add Images to Blogger Posts

Over the last couple of weeks I've received a few emails from people who were having trouble with images not loading on Blogger blog posts. I've also had a couple of little issue with image uploads. The trouble appears to be that the default image uploader in Blogger doesn't fully load. The work-around for the problem is to simply drag and drop an image from your desktop into your blog post. In the following video I demonstrate how that works.

The downside to this method is that it doesn't give you an option to re-use an image that is already stored in your Blogger blog (other than uploading it again). The upside to this method is that it is a little faster.

How My Students Are Using Google Sheets With Their Arduino Projects

The students in one of my classes are starting to make some Arduino-powered gadgets. I let them choose what they wanted to build so I have some that are making cars, one making a Bluetooth-connected locks, and couple making a variation of this Hacking STEM project. In other words, there are a lot of things going on at once with 13 students working on different projects at the same time.

I am fortunate in that I have a fairly generous budget for buying supplies for my class. I have a lot of Arduino-compatible parts available to my students. My students can pick and choose the parts that they need to use. But I need a way to keep track of parts they're using. I set up a Google Form that they use to record the parts they take from the collection. That makes it easy to see who has which parts. 

When we started our exploration of Arduino I had students just writing in their notebooks or Google Docs to document what they were trying to accomplish. That was fine at first. Before too long that got a little messy when it came time for me to review what they were doing. That was partly my fault because I didn't give them a structure for recording their trials and observations. 

Keeping Track of Parts and Progress With Google Sheets
To satisfy the need to keep track of parts and the need for a clear way to review what students are working on, I set up a Google Sheets template that all of my students are now following. In the Google Sheet template there is a sheet for parts used and parts needed. There is a second sheet included on which students document problems they've encountered, solutions they've tried, and solutions that worked. You can view a copy of the template right here

Arduino Parts Suppliers
There are two suppliers that I've used for Arduino parts. Those are Elegoo and SparkFun. The Elegoo Mega 2560 (affiliate link) is a good place to start if you're looking to get started with some simple Arduino projects with your students. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Slides Randomizer - A Neat Google Slides Add-on

Slides Randomizer is a Google Slides add-on that will randomly shuffle a set of Google Slides. It's easy to use the Slides Randomizer add-on. Once you've installed the add-on simply select Slides Randomizer from the add-ons drop-down menu while viewing your slides then click on "randomize presentation." Right before the slides shuffle you'll be asked if you want to include the title slide in the shuffle or leave it at the beginning of the presentation. You can always undo the shuffling of your presentation by reverting to the previous version in the "version history" menu found in the "File" drop-down menu.

Applications for Education
I learned about Slides Randomizer from one of my students who was using it to shuffle his slides in a flashcard-like manner. That's one way of using it.

What I'm thinking about doing with it is to put together a set of slides that outlines a sequence (data transmission from one computer to another through a WLAN). Then I'll use the Slides Randomizer to shuffle the slides before I share them with my students through Google Classroom where they'll be given the assignment of putting the slides into the correct order.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

One Last Round-up of Educational Halloween Resources

Halloween is less than 48 hours away as I write this. My daughters are excited about their Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck costumes. Some of my high school students seemed pretty excited about Halloween too.

If you find yourself looking for some last-minute Halloween-themed activities here some items that I featured earlier this month.

Those of you who are looking for Halloween-themed stories to use in ELA lessons could do well to turn to this collection on ReadWorks. The bulk of the Halloween collection on ReadWorks features articles for a  K-8 audience with a few 9-12 articles mixed in.

ReadWorks is hosting a writing contest for students in fifth through eighth grade. The contest deadline is this Friday. Details are available here.

Speaking of Halloween-themed writing, TED-Ed has a lesson titled How to Make Your Writing Suspenseful.

TED-Ed has another Halloween-themed lesson. That lesson is Vampires: Folklore, Fantasy, and Fact.

Number Chase - Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems.

If you'd like to play some Halloween trivia games or Halloween safety tips review games with your students, Kahoot has hundreds of games on those topics. Here's my video tutorial on how to find and modify Halloween games on Kahoot.